Persecution of refugees in France

This video says about itself:

People Without Papers: How France Handles Its Refugees

1 December 2017

People Without Papers: Despite dwindling publicity, France remains a major destination for thousands of refugees in Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis. This report investigates their plight, as they face police evictions and general hostility.

“I came here to France but I experienced unspeakable problems on my way here“, says 24-year-old Afghan refugee Mustafa. “I have made an application for asylum, and the French government told me to wait for 18 months”, he says. There are many like Mustafa for whom French asylum remains a distant reward. In the meantime, rough sleeping and evasion of a frequently brutal French police, using tear gas and shooting rubber bullets, are a daily peril for those fleeing war.

“The methods that the French police are using are criminal”, says a ‘Help Refugees’ volunteer. Following the destruction of migrant camps, many are left without shelter. “No house, no tent, no nothing”, says Kurdish refugee Zirack, sifting through a deserted camp in the woods. “It’s a big problem for all children. But what can I do? It’s my country’s problem. I can’t stay in my country because my country’s a big, big problem”. For many of the migrants stuck in limbo throughout the camps, the prospect of a better life in the UK means risking all to cross the Channel.

By Athiyan Silva in France:

Persecution of refugees mounts after passage of French asylum law

21 May 2018

Since the passage last month of President Emmanuel Macron’s draconian bill on asylum and immigration in the French National Assembly, there is mounting anger and fear among refugees and undocumented immigrants in France. The law effectively undermines the right to asylum, by drastically cutting the time refugees have to appeal deportation orders, while increasing the length of time police can detain refugees.

Now, refugees fleeing imperialist wars waged by NATO countries including France—such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Mali—are increasingly angry and afraid of French police. Under these conditions, WSWS reporters visited the makeshift camps in Paris, where 3,000 refugees, mostly youth born after the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, are stacked together in inhuman conditions.

The first large refugee camp is composed of hundreds of two-person tents, lined up side by side like small nests along the Paris ring road (périphérique) and under nearby road bridges near La Villette park in the 19th district of Paris. The environment is contaminated: Mattresses are dirty and infested with bedbugs, there are only two toilets and two small water pipes for hundreds of people, and the refugees are forced to wait for volunteers to distribute food, clothes and other essential items. Many people use cold water from the Canal Saint-Denis to brush their teeth and clean their clothes.

Refugees at the camp—who largely come from Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea—were very reluctant to speak and afraid of police repression. One refugee told the WSWS, “The government has nothing to do to help any of us. Look here! This is the real Paris. We are sleeping in the streets in terrible conditions!”

Most of the refugees have lost hope that they could obtain a permanent resident visa and try to obtain a better life in France, and are angry at the French political establishment. One man from Somalia said only, “We are in the street, there is nothing for us here, God alone must save us.”

The second large camp was set up along the Saint-Martin canal in the 10th district of Paris, approximately 2 kilometres from the La Villette camp. Most of the refugees staying in this camp are Afghan men aged between 18 and 35, who are forced to live in the camps under constant fear of police harassment and repression. They cannot walk around or sleep peacefully, either by day or by night.

A 26-year-old Afghan man who lost five family members in a US attack on Jalalabad last year spoke to the WSWS. He said, “I have lost my family. The Americans came at night and shot my father, mother, two brothers and my sister. When this occurred, I was at my uncle’s house, and they also killed 30 people in my village. After that, I left Afghanistan.”

Asked about what the French government has done to help refugees, he said: “I am coming here to save my life, not to earn money, but the government does not help us at all. Here there is no good life, no good food. If you walk on the streets, the police demands your papers; if we don’t have them, they take us to a police station and put us in custody for 5 to 6 hours in a small room with a smelly toilet.”

He added, “Some people bring us food and other items every evening and morning. With their help, we are able to continue to live here.”

However, police are increasingly persecuting and fining volunteers who provide food, water and other essential items to refugees in Paris. Last month, Solidarité-Migrants volunteer Laurence Ariste told the media: “They gave us two fines of €135 each, because we had two cars. They said you can’t distribute here. We’re a small organisation. We don’t have much money. If they give us these fines every time we can’t continue like this.”

Also, last year, police violently expelled people from refugee camps in the streets of the Porte de la Chapelle area of Paris, stealing refugees’ belongings, including sleeping bags and blankets. Men, women and children were tear-gassed by police.

Only two weeks ago, two young refugees without papers drowned and died in the Saint-Martin and Saint-Denis canals; one was from Somalia and the other from Afghanistan.

Minors struggle in particular to prove they are under the age of 18 in age assessment centres. The rejection rate of youth without accepted government photo ID at the age assessment centres is around 80 percent. Many minors spend months trying to prove their age, under conditions where it is impossible to obtain appropriate documents from war-torn countries, and end up on the streets after government authorities refuse them housing.

Under Socialist Party (PS) Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the Porte de la Chapelle welcome area (CPA), commonly known as “la Bulle” (the bubble) after the previous PS national government opened it, has been closed. Refugees who temporarily stayed there are in the streets. Macron is reportedly planning to replace the “Bulle” with five Centres for Reception and Review of the Situation (CAES) in the 18th district of Paris, Ris-Orangis, Cergy, Hauts-de-Seine and Seine-et-Marne. Refugees in Paris fear that these camps are traps for them and try to avoid going there to escape being deported back to their war-torn countries.

Last year, 100,412 refugees applied to France’s OFPRA (Office of Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons), but only 13,020 obtained refugee status; 10,985 got subsidiary protection. Sixty-five thousand three hundred and two were rejected outright. This points to the vast scale of the crisis, even before the implementation of Macron’s new draconian asylum and immigration bill. The new law has further aggravated the conditions for asylum seekers, who now have only 15 days to appeal a refusal to the National Asylum Court (CNDA). This is not long enough to prepare an appeals file.

Such are the reactionary attacks of the Macron government, which is taking as its own the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies of the neo-fascist National Front. In November 2017, an estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants and refugees lived in France. This is only 0.5 percent of the French population. The Macron government and neo-fascist forces like the FN [National Front] are stirring up anti-immigrant hatred to divide the working class and promote unpopular policies of austerity and war.


British government supports Saudi genocidal war on Yemen

This September 2016 video says about itself:

Yemen’s Children are Starving

Yemen is on the brink of famine. BBC Arabic reveals exclusive footage of the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where 2 million people are malnourished and over 325,000 children are at risk of starvation.

“If you don’t die from an airstrike you die from being ill or starvation. And the hardest way to die is from starvation”, laments Dr Ashwaq Muharram. The war in Yemen has pushed a country which traditionally suffers from a shortage of food to the brink.

The city of Hodeida was once prosperous, but airstrikes and conflict on the ground have isolated people in the surrounding villages and forced the closure of hundreds of hospitals. Furthermore, the Saudi-led coalition has blockaded Yemen’s ports … resulting in a shortage of supplies, medicine and fuel.

Without access to food or healthcare, millions are at risk. Children are those most affected. “I never imagined I would ever see a child like this in Yemen. It scares me that this may be the beginning of famine”, says Dr. Muharram. As she watches over her emaciated son, one mother cries, “Although he’s alive it’s as though he’s no longer here.” The extent of this looming disaster is yet to be seen, but what is clear is that if the situation continues, Yemen could lose an entire generation.

By Barry Mason in Britain:

Report exposes UK role in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen

21 May 2018

Thousands of UK personnel are intimately involved in maintaining the military war machine of Saudi Arabia, enabling it to carry out its one-sided slaughter in Yemen.

A recent report, “UK Personnel Supporting the Saudi Armed Forces–Risk, Knowledge and Accountability”, by researchers Mike Lewis and Katherine Templar, is part of a Brits Abroad study funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

The Saudi Arabian-led war against the Middle East’s poorest country is now in its fourth year. The Saudi regime launched the war in March 2015 to reinstall President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who had been driven from power by Houthi rebels. Hadi is currently in exile in Riyadh, apparently under house arrest.

The US, UK and other western countries have supported the Saudi intervention. Like Saudi Arabia, they regard the war against the Houthis as a proxy conflict with Iran.

According to the UN, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the Saudis launched their invasion in March 2015, and more than 85,000 people have been displaced since January this year.

Among the crimes carried out was the killing by Saudi planes of over 30 people at a wedding in April this year, with twice as many suffering horrific wounds. In October 2016, around 150 were killed and more than 500 injured when Saudi planes bombed a funeral in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital.

The UK has a decades long program for supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia. According to the report, 50 percent of all UK weapons and military equipment exports between 2013 to 2017 went to Saudi Arabia. In the period between 2007 and 2011 it was just over a quarter. Most materiel went to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), with the UK supplying nearly half its 324 Combat aircraft, along with spare parts and ammunition.

According to a Sky News report in March, 50 open licences to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia were issued for the period July 2016 to September 2017—up by a third on the previous 15 months and coinciding with Theresa May’s premiership. Open licences allow an uncapped number of weapons to be sent over a period of five years. Only then can the value of the licence be revealed, but the government is under no obligation to publish the figures.

The grand total of UK arms licences since the invasion in Yemen in March 2015 is more than $6.2 billion for aircraft, helicopters, drones, bombs and missiles, according to government figures.

Lewis and Templar’s report explains: “Under a sequence of formal agreements between the UK and Saudi governments since 1973, the UK Ministry of Defence and its contractors supply not only military ‘hardware’, but also human ‘software.’ Around 7,000 individuals—private employees, British civil servants and seconded Royal Air Force personnel—are present in Saudi Arabia to advise, train, service and manage British-supplied combat aircraft and other military equipment.”

The UK government claims these personnel are not involved directly in targeting, loading weaponry or in the planning of operational sorties. But confidential agreements signed between the UK government and the RSAF, which are not to be released to the public till 2027, outline the number of personnel and functions they undertake.

The UK-Saudi Al Yamamah agreement, a record arms deal signed in 1986 which included the supply and support of Tornado fighter-bombers, is still ongoing. The agreement is secret, but the report’s authors were able to see a batch of Downing Street papers that were filed in the National Archive at Kew revealing some details.

Under the agreement the “United Kingdom civilian and military personnel will remain available in Saudi Arabia for preparation, including arming and support, of the [Tornado fighter-bomber] aircraft during an armed conflict…”

Lewis and Templar interviewed technicians, managers and officials of all ranks over two years and their report notes the critical role of UK personnel in the Saudi war machine:

“A mix of company employees and seconded RAF personnel have continued to be responsible for maintaining the weapons systems of all Saudi Tornado IDS fighter-bombers, a backbone of the Yemen air war… work as aircraft armourers and weapons supervisors for the UK-supplied Typhoon fighters deployed at the main operating bases for Saudi Yemen operations, and provided deeper-level maintenance for Yemen-deployed combat aircraft.”

UK personnel in Saudi Arabia have been placed at physical or legal risk, including from scud missiles and unexploded ordnance. Some of those who have tried to whistle-blow over possible war crimes have been harassed and have not been afforded protection under UK law.

The report unearthed evidence that some of the UK personnel are involved in the handling of cluster bombs.

Lewis and Templar also found that the UK government has used private companies to “work on behalf of the British state but with Saudi masters; without the legal protections accorded to UK civil servants or military personnel; and without any guidance or protocols for reporting risks of IHL (International Humanitarian Law) violations to the UK government, or to their employers… Whitehall’s limited oversight of their activities is a deliberately constructed choice.”

The British government singled out arms exports as a key priority post-Brexit, with former defence secretary Michael Fallon promising that the UK would “spread its wings across the world.”

Britain’s arms trade with Saudi Arabia is enormously unpopular at home, with only 6 percent of the British public supporting it according to a recent poll. A legal bid to challenge the UK’s arms exports was financed by a crowd fund appeal.

Earlier this month, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) won its Court of Appeal bid to overturn last year’s High Court judgement that the export of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia was lawful, despite widespread concern the trade was in breach of international humanitarian law. CAAT also won the right to challenge the closed verdict, where judges had heard evidence from the government in secret.

The court case revealed that the government went ahead with the sales despite its export policy chief telling then business secretary, Sajid Javid, “My gut tells me we should suspend [weapons exports to the country].”

The UK has long-standing interests in Yemen. British troops first occupied the port of Aden in present day Yemen in 1839 and it soon became important as a coaling station for British warships. From 1937 the port of Aden and the surrounding protectorate became a British colony. In 1934 Britain aided Saudi Arabia when it annexed Asir, then part of Yemen. Britain enforced a treaty to give Saudi Arabia a 20-year lease on the territory which remains a part of Saudi Arabia to this day.

In 1962, following the death of King Ahmad of Yemen, Arab nationalist army officers took power and proclaimed a republic. Royalists backed by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Britain began an insurgency to restore the monarchy.

A dirty war ensued, with Britain initially supplying Jordan with fighter jets to carry out airstrikes in Yemen and embedding military advisers with its key allies. From March 1963, Britain supplied weaponry directly to the Royalist forces. At the same time, MI6 along with SAS founder David Stirling set up a British force to work with the insurgents. To mask British involvement, SAS and paratrooper forces were given temporary leave and were paid over £10,000 a year (equivalent to £197,000 today) by a Saudi prince.

In 1964 under the Labour government of Harold Wilson, covert bombing of Yemeni targets by the RAF began. Airworks Services was set up as a British company to train Saudi pilots.

Britain was eventually driven out of Aden in November 1967.

Today, driven by intractable crisis and the further erosion of its global standing, Britain is seeking to re-establish its influence in Yemen and across the Middle East as part of a new carve-up by the imperialist powers.

The author also recommends:

US special forces operations in Yemen presage wider regional war
[5 March 2018]

High Court approves UK government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia
[20 July 2018]

British firefighters’ tribute to Grenfell disaster victims

This 8 August 2017 video from Britain is called LOWKEY ft. MAI KHALIL – GHOSTS OF GRENFELL (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Firefighters pay tribute to Grenfell Tower blaze victims as public inquiry begins

FIREFIGHTERS paid tribute today to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire ahead of the start of the public inquiry into the atrocity tomorrow.

The hearing will begin with two weeks of tributes from family and friends remembering the victims of the June 14 2017 fire in which 72 people perished.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was a devastating and heartbreaking tragedy. Seventy-two people died and the lives of those who survived were forever changed.

“On behalf of firefighters everywhere, we pay our respects to those who died, were injured or lost loved ones.

“A whole community has been devastated. The thoughts of all firefighters will be with them as tributes begin at the public inquiry.

“The FBU is working with local people to help the community to recover. We will continue to do everything in our power to help them rebuild their lives.”

Lead counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett said that starting the hearings with tributes will ensure that participants “never lose sight of who our work is for and why we are doing it.”

US Republican politician’s xenophobic ‘hate bus’

This video from the USA says about itself:

Georgia Governor Candidate Runs ‘Deportation Bus’ Ad

18 May 2018

It’s the kind of message you don’t expect to see on a US election campaign bus: “FOLLOW ME TO MEXICO.”

Those are the words on the back door of a repainted school bus Michael Williams is using to drum up support in his bid for the Georgia governor’s seat. He’s dubbed it the “Deportation Bus” and says it’s a show of support for the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Read more here.

This is shortly after another US Republican’s advocacy on the Internet of killing disabled people.

This is five years after British Conservative Theresa May, then Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, used taxpayers’ money to have ‘hate vans’, with slogans against immigrants driving around the country.

This is 57 years after the original ‘hate bus’.

American nazi hate bus, photo by Joe Scherschel

It advocated sending African Americans forcibly to Africa. It rode through Georgia and other ex-slave states in 1961.

It had been hired by Commander George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party.

Unfortunately for the nazis, Rockwell had not paid enough, so the hate bus was repossessed.

One should hope this will also happen to the 2018 hate bus of candidate Michael Williams.

However, as there are now far-right billionaires like Donald Trump, the Koch brothers; and as candidate Wiliams is rather rich himself; etc. that unfortunately may not happen.

Antigua and Barbuda apologizes for discrimination against Rastafarians

This 19 May 2018 video is called Antigua And Barbuda Apologizes For Rastafarian Discrimination.

Spanish dictatorship’s victims buried after 78 years

This video says about itself:

A step closer to justice for victims of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain

24 February 2016

An Argentine judge has ordered the exhumation of the remains of Timoteo Mendieta. He was executed by Franco’s forces at the end of Spain’s civil war and dumped in an unmarked mass grave on the edge of Guadalajara’s municipal cemetery.

This is a big victory for his daughter, 90-years old Ascension Mendieta, who had to travel to Argentina to get the right to give her father a proper burial.

From Reuters news agency today:

Remains of Spanish dictatorship’s victims handed to families, 80 years on

Juan Medina, Miguel Gutierrez

GUADALAJARA, Spain – The remains of 22 people killed in the months following Spain’s 1936-39 civil war [eg, in 1940] were handed over to relatives in a ceremony in Guadalajara on Saturday after investigations into a suspected mass grave unearthed the victims.

Hundreds took part in the handover following an exhumation at a cemetery thought to contain as many as 800 victims of political violence during the almost four-decade dictatorship of General Francisco Franco that followed the war.

The ceremony, in which the remains were handed to families in simple wooden boxes covered by a red velvet cloth and topped with a white carnation and a photo of the deceased, was a solemn event that also helped draw a line under years of uncertainty.

“This has brought us a sense of calm. We feel better because, at the end of the day, although they’re longer alive, we have their bodies which are ours and which we have the right to have where we want and where they should be, in their own town”, said Maria Angeles Ortega Gonzalo, after receiving the remains of Casto Mercado Molada, her brother-in-law’s grandfather.

Her own grandfather, also known to be amongst those at the site, has yet to be identified, she said.

The families planned to give their loved ones a proper burial at cemeteries across the area later on Saturday.

The resting place[s] of many killed across the country are still unknown, though the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) has documented 114,226 cases of men and women buried in mass graves around Spain. …

[Since Franco‘s death in 1975,] some have fought to unearth family members who were killed and dumped in unmarked mass graves. The Guadalajara site was opened on the orders of an Argentine judge in a lawsuit seeking redress for crimes committed during the war and the years that followed.

Historians estimate about half a million combatants and civilians were killed on the Republican and Nationalist sides in the war, while tens of thousands of Franco’s enemies were later killed or imprisoned in a campaign to wipe out dissent.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Conservative Prime Minister Rajoy does not like the search for, and uncovering of, mass graves. In April, the so-called Death Valley near Madrid was opened for the first time after a long legal battle.

Rajoy regularly clashes with relatives of Franco victims who want to know what happened to their grandparents.